First BlacksEditor: I am writing to correct an item in the...


July 03, 1991

First Blacks

Editor: I am writing to correct an item in the June 28 editorial on Justice Thurgood Marshall's retirement. The Sun stated that Marshall ''wanted to be the first black student at the University of Maryland Law School.''

Actually, the law school graduated its first two black students in 1889 -- Harry S. Cummings and Charles Johnson.

While little is known of Johnson's career, Cummings went on to become the first black elected to the Baltimore City Council (in 1891) and a national figure in Republican politics. Cummings' two children still live in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the University of Maryland Law School subsequently has honored Thurgood Marshall by naming its law library after him.

Quincey R. Johnson.


The writer is associated with the University of Maryland at Baltimore's Office for Institutional Advancement.

Thanking Skolnik

Editor: My hat off to Tim Baker for his first-rate column of June 24.

Though the headline "A Young Lawyer Girds for the Courtroom" misses the mark by a fair margin, Mr. Baker's contribution, the column itself, hits the target dead-center by acknowledging gracefully, sensitively and sincerely, his debt to his mentor, Barney Skolnik. It also pays tribute to Mr. Skolnik as a teacher and as a person on the occasion of his departure from Baltimore.

Mr. Baker reveals a side of Mr. Skolnik that few would have suspected he possessed, such as his courtroom jousts. A mentor who has nurtured and given his knowledge to a young person during the formative years of a career can have no better return than the psychic income represented by the knowledge that his efforts were productive and that the recipient is truly appreciative. That the latter is so, is wonderfully reflected in Mr. Baker's final words characterizing Mr. Skolnik, ''A mighty warrior who had a funny laugh, a gentle hand and a warm heart.''

Mr. Skolnik will, indeed, have something during the cold of Maine's winter to keep his ''warm heart'' warm.

Jack S. Futterman.

Ellicott City.

Get Real

Editor: On a recent visit to Baltimore I read about the program of civic uplift being advanced for the upcoming mayoral election campaign: tear down JFX super-structure along the Fallsway, extend light-rail to Pratt St., tear down The Block, return Charles St. to two-way traffic, change boundaries for downtown planning districts.

Get real Baltimore! That's not where the big problems are. Look at the horse collar around the central business district, where all the urban maledictions known to man proliferate.

I go back to 1949 when Thomas Hubbard, chairman, and Arthur McVoy, director of the city Planning Commission and Clark Hobbs, chairman, and Richard Steiner, director of the Redevelopment Commission shared the fourth floor of the Municipal Building armed with post-World War II determination and the bright new tool of the federal Slum Clearance and Urban Redevelopment Act. They saw the city whole in those days, a city still financially secure with land for outward development but stagnant.

McVoy envisioned re-building of Inner Harbor, blocked out a city-wide expressway program and began serious study in the Jones Fall Valley for JFK. Steiner sustained a 17-year assault against the impacted slums and blight around the core, provided the drive and know-how for Charles Center and Inner Harbor and jump-started wide-ranging neighborhood rehabilitation.

All those men are gone now. And since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society propelled more money than good judgment into the situation in the late 1960s, the scene gets muddier by the day.

Where are the new leaders to pick up the baton?

L. S. O'Gwynn.

Pensacola, Fla.

Herbert O. Reid, Legal Giant

Editor: Herbert O. Reid Sr. changed America. With a dedication driven by the promise of the Constitution and a reality of less than second-class citizenship for African Americans, Dr. Herbert Reid came to Howard University School of Law during the years of Jim Crowism. His work, through teaching and constitutional challenges of discriminatory laws, has changed America.

His students are everywhere carrying on his dream for America. He saw the Constitution not only as a shield, but as an armor for social change. His teaching of constitutional law was without equal and his classes were the intellectual equivalent of operating a space vehicle ` highly demanding, exciting and difficult.

Masters of constitutional law are rare indeed. Herbert O. Reid Sr., who died recently, mastered the Constitution.

Thousands of his students who are now lawyers, community and national leaders, had their thoughts and perceptions about the law and life carefully molded and shaped under the brilliant guidance of Dr. Reid.

A teacher's teacher with an extraordinary brilliant mind, Professor Reid stands tall among the towering historic figures and geniuses of American jurisprudence.

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